Manager Terry Francona was ejected after arguing not one, but two poor calls in the Red Sox’ last at-bats of a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday at Fenway Park.
Both calls were made by home plate umpire Dale Scott, and they came amid Boston’s only rally of the day, one which was cut short prematurely.
"I don’t know man. That was interesting," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of the calls. "[The umpires] must’ve had a flight. I’m gonna check on that, see if they had a flight, make sure it’s delayed."
Pedroia was speaking in jest, of course, but the sentiment was understood. Others were not so kind, particularly David Ortiz, the victim of the most glaring Scott mistake.
After J.D. Drew doubled in Kevin Youkilis with one out in the ninth to pull the Sox within 3-1, Ortiz — who had two hits on the day and is quietly hitting .310 in May — stepped up representing the tying run.
The designated hitter worked the count to 3-2 and had the fans at Fenway standing, hopeful for some of that old Ortiz magic. On Kevin Gregg’s eighth pitch of the at bat, he threw a 94-mph fastball that sailed well off the outside corner of the plate.
Ball four. The winning run would come to the plate in the form of Adrian Beltre. Or so it seemed until a ruling nobody expected was made.
Scott, for reasons that replays rendered indefensible, called it a third strike. Justifiably, Ortiz went off, dancing around Scott and separating his arms repeatedly to indicate just how far off the plate he felt the pitch was.
Several minutes later in the Red Sox clubhouse, Ortiz had yet to cool off.
"I’m too mad right now. I’m too [expletive] pissed off right now," Ortiz said when asked about the situation. "Just write down whatever you guys want. Y’all know what’s up."
Ortiz was asked if he had seen the replay.
"I don’t want to. I don’t have to," he replied. "Thank God I wasn’t hitting right-handed, because that would have hit me in the ribs. Have a nice rest of the day guys, because I won’t."
After the call, Francona rushed to protect Ortiz and give Scott an earful. Both player and manager eventually sauntered to the Red Sox dugout with smoke emanating from their ears.
Francona would turn into a full-scale chimney fire roughly one minute later when Scott ruled that Beltre offered at a pitch on which he seemingly held up. The Sox skipper was still some 30 feet from Scott before he had been ejected, his emotions (and likely his language) clear before he reached the top step of the dugout.
Francona would not comment specifically on the calls when asked, but did utilize the reporter who had asked to make his point.
"What did you see?" he asked the inquisitor.
The reporter said that Ortiz’s pitch looked to be a foot outside, prompting this calculated response from Francona: "That’s what I saw."
Francona admitted that he knew he would be tossed the second he saw the strike call on Beltre.
Revising history is always a dangerous road, but had Scott seen what the other 37,198-plus at Fenway Park did when Ortiz was up, the Sox would’ve had first and second with one out, and Beltre’s single would’ve put the tying run in scoring position, possibly at third base once Francona pinch-ran for Ortiz.
As it stands, the Sox were forced to accept a difficult end to an otherwise positive 7-3 homestand. Thanks to Wakefield and a little late life, they had a chance to make it 8-2, until that chance was taken away.